The Economy of the Covenants -- Herman Witsius

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VirginiaHuguenot

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Catechist

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Book IV, Chap IV, XLIX Witsius writes, "We are not, however, to imagine, that the doctrine of the covenant of works was repeated, in order to set up again such a covenant with the Israelites, in which they were to seek righteousness and salvation."

Though Witsius asserts repetition in some respects, it was not a repeating of the covenant of works which he clearly distinguishes.

For example, Book iv, Chap iv, LI Witsius writes, "the covenant made with Israel at mount Sinai was not formally the covenant of works, 1st. Because they cannot be renewed with the sinner, in such a sense as to say, if, for the future, thou shalt perfectly perform every instance of obedience, thou shalt be justified by that, according to the covenant of works. For, by this, the pardon of former sins would be presupposed, which the covenant of works excludes,. 2ndly. Because God did not require perfect obedience from Israel, as a condition of this covenant, as a cause of claiming the reward; but sincere obedience, as an evidence of reverence and gratitude. 3rdly. Because it did not conclude Israel under the curse, in the sense peculiar to the covenant of works, if they sinned but in the least instance."

The national covenant made with Israel was not the covenant of works. But as Witsius writes subsequently in LIV, "It was a national covenant between God and Israel..." I don't think Witsius would contradict what he just wrote, nor does he diminish his principle caveats when he states that the national covenant made with Israel is not the covenant of works; though through synecdoche, repetition is observed, in part, but not in kind or administration. The covenant of works before the fall was peculiar to Adam as he represented his posterity. Never again will the covenant of works be repeated in such kind or administration. When the attempted republication is made in kind or administration, we abuse the legitimate function of substitution.

What good can be done or practical application attained, asserting a republished covenant of works based upon the Adamic covenant of works. The covenant at Sinai is clearly a consequent, "both of the covenant of grace and of works; but was formally neither one or the other."

Perfect obedience is replaced by sincere obedience, which in turn, is grace, but not one and the same.

Overstating principles such that a repetition of the covenant of works equates to a repeating of the covenant of works, in the same sense, is an abuse of terms. It is against the nature of the covenant of works. See also Book 1, Chap. ix, XX.

For those who speak of the republished covenant of works, do you do so under the umbrella of repetition or of repeating? Too much of the language in the above posts, appears to mix the two to too great a degree, which is unfortunate.
 
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